Home News Future HDB flats could be 3D-printed, smarter and two degrees cooler

Future HDB flats could be 3D-printed, smarter and two degrees cooler

3D printing will not only shorten building time for HDB flats, it will also improve workers' productivity, address labour shortage issues and provide flat buyers with varied design options for their homes

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SINGAPORE — The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has some seriously cool, innovative plans for future HDB flats that will promote sustainability and improve quality of living. We’re talking flats with integrated smart systems and much cooler interiors to help combat Singapore’s rising temperatures. HDB is also working with new research partnerships to allow for 3D printing of certain building components.

On Tuesday, July 23, at the Urban Sustainability R&D Congress 2019, HDB and industrial giant Evonik signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), placing both entities in a tie-up over developing innovative and sustainable living solutions for Singapore.

First on the partnership’s agenda of resource efficiency is the specialty chemical firm’s new silicon-based material — CALOSTAT®.

According to a press release by Evonik, CALOSTAT® is “a high-performance insulation material that can offer superior heat protection for buildings in tropical climate like Singapore”.

“Combined with the best insulation values, fire protection and sustainability, CALOSTAT® will potentially reduce the heat gain in the building during daylight while offering best in class fire protection. This will also enable the buildings to become more sustainable and environmentally-friendly.”

The high-performance insulation will be tested for use in the roofing panels of future HDB flats. According to Evonik, CALOSTAT® is supposed to reduce the ambient temperature inside HDB flats by up to two degrees Celsius, which will provide a much more comfortable environment for residents and an escape from Singapore’s heat.

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According to HDB’s press release, trials for using CALOSTAT® in HDB roofing are scheduled for take-off in the beginning of 2020, and if met with success, HDB is looking at utilising the silicon-based material in other parts of HDB apartment blocks as well.

HDB described CALOSTAT® as “sustainable, non-combustible, hydrophobic (having the ability to repel water) and pressure resistant”.

This wonder material has already gone through sufficient testing and has been proven to have good thermal insulation properties. HDB said that developments in Switzerland, London and Germany are already successfully utilising CALOSTAT®.

Another plan in the works between HDB and Evonik is the 3D printing of HDB building components. The two entities will be working on the improvement of concrete pre-mix, which should allow for the 3D printing and for a more efficient building process versus conventional pre-cast production.

3D printing will not only shorten building time for HDB flats, it will also improve workers’ productivity, address labour shortage issues and provide flat buyers with varied design options for their homes.

“HDB is constantly seeking new solutions to enhance Singapore’s living environment,” said Dr. Cheong Koon Hean, Chief Executive Officer of HDB.

“With the rising urban challenges including climate change, further actions need to be taken to achieve a more sustainable living space. Therefore, working hand in hand with industry partners such as Evonik is a step in that direction.”

Another partner that HDB signed a Research Collaboration Agreement with is V-Key. This particular tie-up will focus on the study of potential enhancements to HDB’s existing smart living systems, which are already being used at the new Punggol Northshore flats.

With the enhancements, the smart living systems aim to integrate smart appliances from different brands, creating an easy, uncomplicated experience for HDB residents.

Smart features include smart lighting, smart curtains and motion sensors. Smart monitoring systems will also be available for households with elderly residents. Motion sensors will have the ability to detect and “learn” people’s movements; for example, it will record and learn what time residents go to sleep, get out of bed or leave their flats.

This is especially good for elderly residents, because if the motion sensors fail to detect “regular” movements, alerts can be sent to their caregivers, guardians or family members.

“I am very mindful that the journey from R&D to commercial solutions is not easy. And that’s why (the Government has) been looking at ways to strengthen partnerships with the private sector to support all of you in your R&D journey,” said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.

At the congress, Wong also announced that S$70 million of the S$150 million previously set aside under the Cities of Tomorrow programme will be invested over the next two years and used to address Singapore’s future challenges, such as climate change and living standards.

Wong also introduced the Built Environment Technology Alliance (BETA), a new initiative that will provide access for firms in the built environment sector to new technology and help with cost reduction.

Wong also gave out R&D awards to “recognise and encourage outstanding R&D efforts from the MND Family and partners”.

HDB was given a distinguished award for the Smart Hub project, a centralised data platform for 10,000 HDB flats spanning 24 towns, which collects data from smart estate services. This data is used to develop business intelligence tools for performance monitoring and data analytics.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) was also given a distinguished award for Project Wolbachia, which aims to reduce the number of dengue mosquitoes in Singapore by stopping the male mosquito’s breeding ability.

Three merit awards were also given out to other projects by the Energy Market Authority (EMA), A*STAR and HDB. /TISG

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